On tugboats or yachts, New York sightseeing cruises give tourists (and locals) a unique perspective on the city’s famous landmarks.
New York City is surrounded by water, so it makes sense that the best New York sightseeing happens on harbor cruises. Whether by historic sailing ship, climate-controlled cruiser, or commuter ferry, New York sightseeing cruises give tourists an unusual and thrilling perspective on New York City. Harbor cruise companies offer outings primarily in the spring, summer, and fall when pleasant weather and fine coastal breezes are the norms. Commuter boats sail year-round for dramatic New York sightseeing in any season at a fraction of the cost of a guided tour.
New York Historic Ship Tours
View the historic South Street Seaport and harbor the way New York’s first mariners did: aboard a full-sail ship. The South Street Seaport Museum offers harbor cruises on its wooden tugboat W.O. Decker, a National Historic Landmark, and it’s majestic 1885 schooner Pioneer. Tugboat tours explore the harbor’s hidden waterways, while the Pioneer sails past New York sightseeing staples like the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge. Manhattan by Sail’s two ships — the schooner Shearwater and the tall ship Clipper City — ply the harbor on daytime, sunset, and night harbor cruises.
Sightseeing Cruises: Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Governor’s Island, and More
New York sightseeing cruises give visitors a chance to see the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Governor’s Island, Brooklyn’s waterfront, lower Manhattan’s skyscrapers, the Brooklyn Bridge, the World Financial Center, and the Empire State Building. Most harbor cruises depart several times a day from morning until evening. Circle Line Downtown’s vessel Zephyr and the New York Water Taxi depart Piers 16 and 17 (respectively) near the South Street Seaport, while Bateaux New York, NY Waterway, Classic Harbor Line, Spirit Cruises, and other New York sightseeing companies depart piers on Manhattan’s west side.
Dining Cruises: Bateaux New York
Blend two local obsessions — fine dining and New York sightseeing — on specialty dining harbor cruises. Bateaux New York’s European-style glass-enclosed boats present 360-degree views of the city skyline and landmarks, while the chefs whip up sophisticated menus for brunch, lunch or dinner. Fine wines, live jazz, and dancing the night away are always on tap. World Yacht dining cruises transport passengers on an elegant three-deck yacht around lower Manhattan and complete the experience with a four-course dinner menu or expansive brunch buffet.
Live life in the fast lane: board the Shark Speedboat (operated by Circle Line Downtown) at Pier 16 for a heart-thumping, hair-raising tour of harbor highlights. See the Statue of Liberty, Battery Park, the World Financial Center, and the city’s skyscrapers go by in a blur. The 30-minute narrated harbor cruises feature music and fun for kids and adults.
NY Commuter Routes
Design your own bargain-priced New York sightseeing cruises on the city’s commuter water routes. Water Taxi connects piers on the East River in Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, and ferries commuters from lower Manhattan’s Pier 11 (at Wall Street) to points in New Jersey. The free Staten Island Ferry shuttles between lower Manhattan’s South Ferry terminal to State Island’s St. George terminal and offers views of skyscrapers, Governor’s Island, the Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island.